Category Archives: Philately

Halls of History (4-15-14)

Halls of History

April 15 is an interesting day in history. To wit:

  1. 1452—Leonardo da Vinci born.
  2. Scott #77 Abraham Lincoln1865—President Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the previous evening by John Wilkes Booth while at the play, An American Cousin, at the Ford’s Theatre.
  3. 1892—Closing ceremony of the Games of the I Olympiad in Athens, Greece, the first Olympic games of the modern era. The original Olympic games had been held from 776 BD to 394 AD.
  4. General Electric Company is founded. In 2011, by various measurements GE ranked as the 26th-largest firm in the U.S., the 14th most profitable, the fourth-largest in the world, No. 5 best global brand, No. 63 green company, and No. 15 most admired company.
  5. The RMS Titanic sinks in the north Atlantic ocean after striking an iceberg, taking 1,517 people to a watery grave.Rand McNally published its first road atlas.Scott #2016 Jackie Robinson
  6. 1947—Jackie Robinson played in a baseball game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the so-called color barrier in major league baseball.
  7. 1951—Heloise born. Smile if you or your mom was a great fan of Heloise.
  8. 1965—The first Ford Mustang rolled off the show room floor, two days before it was to go on sale to the general public.
  9. 1990—Gretao Garbo died. Smile if you or your dad had a Greta Garbo poster from the 1940s or ’50s.

Most recently, which means last in this list, but certainly not least:

10. 2013—Two home-made bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring another 264 people.

Boston

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History Through Philately–Happy birthday to the ASPCA!

History Through Philately stamp

With my WordPress problems of these past three months now firmly in the past (see WordPress problems resolved!), I seem to have more time to do the things I like to do, such as blog camping (see May I camp out in your blog?) and blogging.

Long-time readers know that I am a big fan of serial blogging, too, but serial blogging takes a lot more effort than just putting up a pretty picture every day, or a cute quote.

Scott #776, Texas centennialSome of my blog series include

I have always had a love of history, with war history being at the top of my list. I find it amazing that humans can be so cruel to other humans, usually under the guise of religion. Right now I’m reading The Crusades by  Zoé Oldenbourg. Just a sampling of how cruel the crusades were: “The Aemenian nobles of Edessa who were plotting to overthrow their new lord were punished in the Byzantine fashion by mutilation–having their eyes put out and their feet, hands, or noses cut off.” The Crusades were in the Eleventh Century, yet killing in the name of religions continues to the present.Scott #993 Railroad Engineers of America

Philately, or stamp collecting, by its very nature encourages the study of history, so it was only natural that I became a philatelist, or stamp collector. At one time I had a huge stamp collection, include Railroad Postal History (RPO), but it was sold when I evacuated Texas in April 1993 and wound up here in San Diego.

I still collect stamps, virtually (much less financial investment), and subscribe to daily emails from history.com. Coupled with Wikipedia’s On this day section on their front page, I get my fill of history each day.

So without further adoo (that’s Texan for adieux), on this day in 1866….

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded in New York City. It is entirely separate from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which was founded in England in 1824 to prevent cruelty to carriage horses. The ASCPA’s mission is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” It’s motto is, “We are their voice.”

One might wonder why anyone would be cruel to a defenseless animal, and perhaps even if their mission might be outdated. All one has to do is pay attention to the news, and it’s easy to see that their mission is not outdated, and that if humans can be cruel to other humans, they certainly can be cruel to defenseless animals. Examples include dogfighting and cockfighting, not feeding an animal enough (often happens to dogs and horses), not giving them clean water, keeping them outside in very hot or very cold weather, hitting an animal (another way to “train” an animal). Some that were recently in the news include setting cats on fire, shooting cats and dogs with arrows, drowning newborn dogs by throwing them into fast-moving rivers, abandoning newborn cats by “throwing them away” in a dumpster.

In celebration of the founding of the ASPCA, here are some United States postage stamps featuring cats, dogs, and horses, the three most commonly abused animals:

Scott #2372, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2372

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Scott #2373, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2373

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Scott #2374, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2374

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Scott #2375, issued February 5, 1988Scott #2375

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Scott #3232, issued August 20, 1998Scott #3232

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Scott #3670, issued September 20, 2002Scott #3670

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Scott #2098, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2098

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #2099, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2099

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Scott #2100, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2100

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Scott #2101, issued September 7, 1984Scott #2101

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Scott #3230, issued August 20, 1998Scott #3230

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #3671, issued September 20, 2002Scott #3671

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Scott #4451-4460, issued April 30, 2010Scott #4451-4460

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Scott #2155, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2155

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Scott #2156, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2156

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Scott #2157, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2157

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Scott #2158, issued September 25, 1985Scott #2158

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Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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Look what arrived in the mail!

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you remember my Ready! Set! ACTION! post, you might remember that I was pretty sure I was going to buy all the Photoshop actions from PanosFX.com.

Well, I did.

The envelope with a postmarked postage stamp is really cool. Here is our favorite cat helping me with everything:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I had tried many times to create a postage stamp with a postmark and place it on an envelope but after many, many hours I never succeeded in getting a satisfactory product. The envelope, stamp, and postmark took all of a couple of minutes using the PanosFX.com actions.

PanosFX.com has quite a few free Actions, too, so head on over there, register, and download some action!

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!

Photographic Art by Russel Ray photos--taking photographs, making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

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History Through Philately — Happy birthday to the United States postal system!

History Through Philately stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On this date in 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the United States postal system. That was almost a full year before the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776.

According to History.com:

Today, the United States has over 40,000 post offices and the postal service delivers 212 billion pieces of mail each year to over 144 million homes and businesses in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. The postal service is the nation’s largest civilian employer, with over 700,000 career workers, who handle more than 44 percent of the world’s cards and letters. The postal service is a not-for-profit, self-supporting agency that covers its expenses through postage (stamp use in the United States started in 1847) and related products. The postal service gets the mail delivered, rain or shine, using everything from planes to mules. However, it’s not cheap: The U.S. Postal Service says that when fuel costs go up by just one penny, its own costs rise by $8 million.

Following are some of my favorite United States postage stamps, one from each decade.

Benjamin Franklin
My favorite scientist born in the current United States (Boston).
Scott #1, issued in 1847

Scott #1 Benjamin Franklin

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Thomas Jefferson
My favorite president, possibly because he also was a scientist.
Scott #29 issued in 1859

Scott #29 Thomas Jefferson

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Steam Locomotive
Any stamp with a train on it is going to be a favorite!
Scott #114 issued in 1869

Scott #114 Locomotive

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zachary Taylor
Most early stamps had pictures of people in profile.
This was the first non-profile picture stamp that I added
to my stamp collection. At the time it cost me a whopping
$300, but the few other stamps that had non-profile
pictures cost $1,000 or more. So I had to settle.
Scott #179 issued in 1875

Scott #179 Zachary Taylor

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry
This was the first stamp for which I paid over $1,000 for.
It was also my first stamp with a face value higher than ten cents.
Scott #218 issued in 1888

Scott #218 Commodore Perry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Christopher Columbus
This was the first stamp in my collection with a face value over $1.
Scott #245 issued in 1893

Scott #245 Christopher Columbus

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Empire State Express
Notice that the train is upside down. This was caused
by multiple pass printing, i.e., the sheet of paper was
printed first with color and then run through again
to be printed with black. Called an “invert,” they are
rare and expensive. I never owned this one because it
was simply too expensive, currently costing around $60,000.
Scott #295a issued in 1901

Scott #295a Empire State Express

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Golden Gate
A couple of decades before the Golden Gate Bridge was built.
Scott #399 issued in 1913

Scott #399 Golden Gate

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Head of Freedom on the U.S. Capitol Dome
Bicolor stamps were a favorite of mine.
Scott #573 issued in 1923

Scott #573 Head of Ffreedom on the Capitol Dome

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Texas Centennial featuring Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin
I was born in Texas, so Texas stamps were another favorite of mine.
Scott #776 issued in 1936

Scott #776 Texas Centennial

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John Philip Sousa
Even though I played the piano and the violin,
I have always been in love with march music,
and there’s no one better than John Philip Sousa.
Scott #880 issued in 1940

Scott #880 John Philip Sousa

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Railroad Engineers of America
My dad was an engineer with Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Scott #993 issued in 1950

Scott #993 Railroad Engineers of America

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Chief Joseph
This was one of the first multicolored postage stamps.
Previously stamps were one- to four-color printing.
Scott #1364 issued in 1968

Scott #1364 Chief Joseph American Indian

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Canadian International Philatelic Exhibition
Also in the late 1960s, the Postal Service realized that they could make a lot
of money by catering to philatelists. All they had to do was issue lots of postage
stamps each year. Philatelists who collected unused stamps would buy every one
of them and store them rather than using them to require the Postal Service to
actually do work, like delivering mail. They went from issuing a dozen stamps
each year  to issuing many dozens, often attached to each other.
That’s when I quit collecting  unused stamps; not sure if the
USPS factored into their profits the people who quit.
Scott #1757 issued in 1978

Scott #1757 Canadian International Philatelic Exhibition

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Weaver violins
I played the violin from the age of 6 to 38.
Not good to take your violin to the beach.
Scott #1813 issued in 1980

Scott #1813 Violins

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Blue Jay
Screech owls and blue jays inhabited our yard when I was growing up,
and my wise old grandmother loved them both, as do I.
Scott #2483 issued in 1995

Scott #2483 Blue Jay

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Spay and neuter your pet!
Please! There are tens of thousands of dogs and cats
killed each year because there are not enough forever homes.
By spaying and neutering your pet, we can prevent that.
Scott #3670 issued in 2002

Scott #3670 Spay and neuter your cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Animal Rescue — Adopt A Shelter Pet
Throughout the years all of my adopted pets — Bosco, Bougher, Union, Pacific,
Zoey the Cool Cat — have come from animal shelters. Please adopt!
Scott #4454 issued in 2010

Scott #4454 Adopt a shelter pet

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
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Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #1

History Through Philately — Mrs. Silence Dogood

History Through Philately stamp

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The very first adhesive postage stamp in the world was issued by Great Britain on May 1, 1840, for use beginning May 6. It is known as the Penny Black:

British Penny Black

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The Penny Black is not a rare stamp since 286,700 sheets were printed comprising 240 stamps each, for a total of 68,808,000 stamps. An estimated 1.5 million Penny Blacks still exist. A used Penny Black in FINE condition can be had for about $125, and an unused one in FINE condition can be had for about $3,500.

Of course, a postal system existed in many countries prior to 1840 but without postage stamps. When the carriage fee was paid, the postal clerk made a mark in the upper right corner indicating fee paid and took the envelope for delivery. Eventually postmarks came into use. Created by Henry Bishop of London, they were called a Bishop mark and were first used in 1661 at the London General Post Office.

Here in the United States, the first postal system was established in 1692 under a grant provided by King William and Queen Mary to Thomas Neale. The United States Post Office was established by the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775, and is one of only a few government agencies expressly authorized by the United States Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7; known as the postal clause).

The Congress also named Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General. Franklin had been a postmaster in the Colonies for decades so he was a natural choice.

Many States and Cities started issuing their own postage stamps after Britain got everything started. It was not until the Stamp Act of 1847 (March 3) that Congress authorized the printing of stamps by the United States Post Office, and the first stamp the Office issued on July 1, 1847, bore an engraved picture of Benjamin Franklin, the first Postmaster General:

Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #1

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Five cents paid the rate for a letter weighing less than one ounce and traveling less than three hundred miles. About 3,700,000 stamps were printed and many survive today. Used and unused stamps in very fine condition sell for, respectively, about $600 and $1,600. However, stamps in poor condition can be purchased for as little as 10% of those prices.

Contrary to today’s FOREVER postage stamps, the first United States postage stamp was declared invalid for postal use after July 1, 1851.

Following are other early United States postage stamps featuring Benjamin Franklin, each one above a trivia tidbit about Franklin. I have included their Scott Catalog number so you can easily find them to purchase for your own stamp collection.

Scott #38, 1860Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #38Invented the lightning rod and bifocals.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #63, 1861Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #63Invented the Franklin stove, named after him.

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Scott #133, 1869Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #133Served as the first United States Ambassador to France.

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Scott #134, 1870Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #134Became wealthy by publishing
Poor Richard’s Almanack [sic] and The Pennsylvania Gazette.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #212, 1887Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #212Helped found the University of Pennsylvania in 1740.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #247, 1894Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #247Elected first president of the American Philosophical Society.

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Scott #300, 1903Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #300Governor of Pennsylvania from 1785 to 1788.

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Scott #331, 1908Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #331Born in Boston on January 17, 1706.

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Scott #423, 1912Benjamin Franklin postage stamp, Scott #423Used the pseudonym “Mrs. Silence Dogood” to write letters to the editor of
the New England Courant, which happened to be his older brother, James.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
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Sunflower and clouds

Friday Flower Fiesta (3/8/13) — Flowers on stamps

Friday Flower Fiesta

History Through Philately stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I thought I would take a break from orchids today (we’ll get back to them next week) and combine my love of philately with my love of nature.

Here, then, are some flowers from my photograph collection and a United States postage stamps featuring that flower.

Scott #1183 Kansas Statehood

Sunflower and ladybug

Sunflower and clouds

Kansas entered the Union on January 29, 1861, and its 100th anniversary of statehood was celebrated with the release of Scott #1183 on May 10, 1961 — why the Post Office didn’t release it on January 29, 1961, is beyond me. Its official nickname is the Sunflower State, and the highest point in the state is Mount Sunflower at 4,041 feet above sea level.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1256 Poinsettia

Scott #2166 Poinsettia

Poinsettia

The poinsettia is native to Mexico and was introduced to the United States in 1825. The poinsettia industry was started by Albert Ecke in Los Angeles in 1900. His son, Paul Ecke, developed a specific grafting technique that allowed the poinsettia industry to expand, but it was Paul Ecke Jr. who was responsible for advancing the association between Christmas and poinsettias. Paul Jr. changed the market from mature plants shipped by rail to cuttings shipped by air, sent free plants to television stations for them to display on air from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and appeared on The Tonight Show and Bob Hope’s Christmas specials to promote poinsettias.

The Ecke family poinsettia operation moved to Encinitas (that’s right here in San Diego County!) in 1923.

Left to grow on their own, poinsettias will grow tall and scragly. The Eckes developed a grafting method, known only to them, that allowed them to create a compact, bushier plant. In the 1990s, a university researcher discovered, and published, the grafting method, allowing competitors to flourish, particularly those using low-cost labor in foreign countries.

In 2008, Paul Ecke III decided to stop producing plants in the U.S. The Ecke Family operations still control about 70% of the United States market and 50% of the worldwide market.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1737 Roses

Scott #1876 Rose

Yellow rose

Rose blooming in November in San Diego, California

Roses are used to make perfumes, jams, jellies, marmalade, tea, rose syrup, and skin products. Some rose petals are candied, and rose creams are a traditional English confectionery.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1877 Camelia

White Camellia

Several Camellias are used to make tea, Camellia sinensis, known as the “tea plant,” being the most popular because its tea is considered the finest made from Camellias. Camellias also produce cooking oil for hundreds of millions of people in China and Southeast Asia. Camellia oil is also used to clean and protect the blades of cutting instruments.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott E1878 Dahlia

Scott #4167 Dahlia

Dahlia

There are a great variety of dahlias, resulting from their eight sets of chromosomes; most plants have only two sets of chromosomes. The best place to see dahlias in San Diego County is at the annual San Diego County Fair in June and July. For as long as I have been going to the Fair (18 years), there has always been a dahlia show with hundreds of beautiful flowers on display.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1879 Lily

Lily

Some lilies, especially Lilium longiflorum (the common Easter Lily), are toxic to cats. The mechanism of toxicity is not understood but it involves damage to the renal tubular epithelium, causing acute kidney failure.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I can recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

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Scott #3473 — Washington Monument

History Through Philately — On this day in….

History Through Philately

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

On this day in….

….1215 — King John of England signed the Magna Carta by applying his royal seal. Although the document was basically a peace treaty between King John and his barons, it provided guarantees for protecting feudal rights and privileges, upholding church freedom, and maintaining laws throughout England. The Magna Carta, or Great Charter, is now seen as a cornerstone in the development of democracy in England, which then led to democracy throughout Europe, the rest of the Old World, and the New World, which is why the United States issued a postage stamp on June 15, 1965, recognizing its role in United States history and government.

Scott #1215 — Magna Carta

Scott #1215 — Magna Carta

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Magna Carta implied there were laws that even the king was required to observe, thereby precluding future claims to absolutism by English monarchs. Arguably the most important statement was made by Clause 39 which provided that “no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimised … except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” Now recognized as an early guarantee of trial by jury and of habeas corpus, it inspired England’s Petition of Right of 1628 and the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

….1849 — James K. Polk, eleventh President of the United States, died in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 53 and just three months after leaving office. His birthplace is unknown but believed to have been in a log cabin in what is now Pineville, North Carolina. He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and was both a lawyer and a planter.

Before becoming President of the United States, he served as Governor of Tennessee, Congressman from Tennessee and 17th Speaker of the House. His public service career stretched from 1825 to 1849.

During Polk’s presidency, he oversaw the opening of the United States Naval Academy and the Smithsonian Institution, groundbreaking for the Washington Monument, and the issuance of the first United States postage stamps States.

Scott #816 — James K. Polk

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Scott #2217b—  James K. Polk

Scott #2217b— James K. Polk

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Scott #2587 — James K. Polk

Scott #2587 — James K. Polk

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Scott #3001 — United States Naval Academy

Scott #3001 — United States Naval Academy

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Scott #1838 — Smithsonian Institution

Scott #1838 — Smithsonian Institution

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Scott #3059 — Smithsonian Institution

Scott #3059 — Smithsonian Institution

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Scott #1, Benjamin Franklin, issued in 1847

Scott #1, first U. S. postage stamp, issued in 1847

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Pacific trains

History Through Philately — On this day in 1869….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

History Through Philately

 

Scott #922, Transcontinental Railroad 75th anniversaryOn this day in 1869, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads drove a ceremonial last spike into the tracks at Promontory, Utah, that connected their two railroads, making transcontinental railroad travel possible for the first time. Bye bye wagon trains!

The first mention of a “transcontinental railroad” was in 1832 but Congress did not provide funding to survey possible routes until 1853. A nation divided over slavery, though, could not come up with a route that made every happy.

Scott #993, Railroad Engineers of AmericaIn 1862, during the Civil War, Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act, choosing Union Pacific and Central Pacific to build the transcontinental line. The Act would also guarantee public land grants and loans to the two railroads. Construction began in 1866 with Union Pacific building west from Omaha, Nebraska, and Central Pacific building east from Sacramento, California. The construction pace was furious due to the public land grant guarantees. The Central Pacific brought in thousands of Chinese laborers, resulting in several derogatory terms entering the public lexicon.

Scott #2265, Railroad Mail CarThe Union Pacific crews, main Civil War veterans of Irish descent, suffered through harsh winters, hot summers, and Indian raids. Central Pacific crews worked 12-hour days, sometimes 15, to get through the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains, losing whole crews to avalanches or explosive mishaps.

Interesting, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific workers finished laying nearly 2,000 miles of track ahead of schedule and under budget. Trips that took months by wagon train and weeks by boat now took just days by train.

The completion of the transcontinental railroad is given significant credit for the rapid growth and expansion of the United States in the ensuing years.

The ceremonial golden spike was driven into place by California Governor Leland Stanford. He is the same Leland Stanford that founded Stanford University, naming it after his son, Leland Stanford Junior, who died of typhoid at age 16. The official name of the University is Leland Stanford Junior University, providing fodder over the years to Stanford’s arch-rival, the University of California at Berkeley, whose students commonly refer to it as the “Junior University.”

My dad and granddad worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in Texas, but I became a Union Pacific fan while living in northern Utah from 1961-1965. I even had twin beagle pups one time that I named Union and Pacific.

Union Pacific trains

 

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County? I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor with Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re just looking for a home inspector,
I can highly recommend Russel Ray; that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Scott #2512, Grand Canyon National Park

Missed National Parks Week last week?

Halls of History

 

I was so busy last week that I forgot that it was National Parks Week. All National Parks were offering free admission. I have found in the past that free admission also applies to National Monuments and National Forests, and I usually take advantage of the opportunity here to visit Cabrillo National Monument and to do more in Cleveland National Forest than just drive through on the freeway.

Since I missed it, I thought I’d visit some National Parks right here in my blog!

The first national park in the world was founded right here in the United States, in California even. Yellowstone National Park was established by Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone is located mostly in Wyoming but extends into Montana and Idaho. Those three states did not exist in 1872; they were territories, which is why the Federal Government took control of Yellowstone as a National Park.

Some people in Arkansas might argue that the first National Park was established there since the Hot Springs Reservation was set asied on April 20, 1832, when President Andrew Jackson signed legislation protecting it. No legal authority was established and federal control of the area was not definitively established until 1877.

The world’s second National Park was established in Australia in 1879 as the Royal National Park. Other significant National Parks throughout the world:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park was created in 1885 as Canada’s first national park in 1885.
  • New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park came along in 1887.
  • Europe’s first National Parks were nine parks  created in Sweden in 1909.
  • Africa’s first National Park was established in 1925 as Albert National Park, now named Virunga National Park).
  • France’s first National Park was Vanoise National Park in the Alps, created in 1963.
  • The largest National Park in the world is Northeast Greenland National Park with 240,000,000 acres, making it larger than 219 countries.
  • The largest National Park in the United States is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska at 13,175,790 acres.
  • The smallest National Park in the United States is Hot Springs National Park at 5,550 acres. It also is the only National Park located in an urban area.
  • The newest National Park is Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, created in 2004.
  • The National Park Service was created in 1916 to administer the growing number of National Parks in the United States, now numbering 58.

The United States started recognizing National Parks on its postage stamps in 1934 with the release of a set of ten stamps, shown below. The Scott number shown with each stamp is an internationally recognized system for identifying stamps of the world.

Scott #740, Yosemite National ParkYosemite National Park
California — Created October 1, 1890
Scott #740, issued July 16, 1934

 

Scott #741, Grand CanyonGrand Canyon National Park
Arizona — Created February 26, 1919
Scott #741, issued July 24, 1934

 

Scott #742, Mt. RainierMount Rainier National Park
Washington — Created March 2, 1899
Scott #742, issued August 3, 1934

 

Scott #743, Mesa Verde National ParkMesa Verde National Park
Colorado — Created June 29, 1906
Scott #743, issued September 25, 1934

 

Scott #744, Yellowstone National ParkYellowstone National Park
Montana, Wyoming & Idaho — Created March 1, 1872
Scott #744, issued July 30, 1934

 

Scott #745, Crater Lake National ParkCrater Lake National Park
Oregon — Created May 22, 1902
Scott #745, issued September 5, 1934

 

Scott #746, Acadia National ParkAcadia National Park
Maine — Created February 26, 1919
Scott #746, issued October 2, 1934

 

Scott #747, Zion National ParkZion National Park
Utah — Created November 19, 1919
Scott #747, issued September 18, 1934

 

Scott #748, Glacier National ParkGlacier National Park
Montana — Created May 11, 1910
Scott #748, issued August 27, 1934

 

Scott #749, Great Smoky Mountains National ParkGreat Smoky Mountains National Park
North Carolina & Tennessee — Created June 15, 1934
Scott #749, issued October 8, 1934

 

Since those ten stamps were issued in 1934, another ten stamps have been issued recognizing National Parks, most recently in 1990 when the Grand Canyon appeared on Scott #2512. The Grand Canyong is so well-known that the name of the National Park wasn’t even on the stamp.

Scott #2512, Grand Canyon National Park

 

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Scott #1, Benjamin Franklin, issued in 1847

Halls of History — #1: Benjamin Franklin (Scott #1)

Halls of History

 

What is currently known as the United States Postal Service was established by the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775, while meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That means that it is older than the United States itself! It also is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution:

Article I, Section 8, Clause 7, known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, provides that “The Congress shall have power … To establish Post Offices and post Roads.”

The first United States postage stamp, Scott #1, featured Benjamin Franklin:

Scott #1, Benjamin Franklin, issued in 1847

 

Benjamin Franklin has been on more United States postage stamps than all but one person. Five cents paid the rate for a ½-ounce letter sent under three hundred miles.

Franklin had been Postmaster General for the City of Philadelphia since 1737. In 1753, the British Government appointed Franklin the Joint Deputy Postmaster for the Colonies. Under his direction he extended mail delivery outside the Colonies, initiated night travel for postal riders to speed mail delivery, and created a dead letter office for undeliverable mail. By 1757 Franklin had surveyed the post roads and reorganized postal operations to provide smoother communication among the Colonies, a task that was crucial to the American Revolution.

At the same meeting of the Second Continental Congress in 1775, Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first United States Postmaster General. He served in that capacity until November 7, 1776, when he left to serve as United States Ambassador to France.

The Post Office continued to evolve. On February 20, 1792, President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act which established the Post Office Department. Eighty years later, the Post Office Act of 1872 elevated the Post Office Department to a Government Cabinet. Almost one hundred years after that, on August 12, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Postal Reorganization Act that replaced the Post Office Department with an independent United States Postal Service, effective July 1, 1971.

Scott #1 was authorized by Congress and approved on March 3, 1847. Stamps were issued on July 1 in New York City, July 2 in Boston, July 7 in Philadelphia, and July 11 in Washington, DC. The earliest known use of Scott #1 is on an envelope dated July 7, 1847, and mailed from New York City to Liverpool, England.

Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, a banknote engraving firm, prepared the design for Scott #1. Originally President Andrew Jackson, recently deceased, was supposed to be on the stamp. Franklin’s portrait, based on artwork by James B. Longacre, was deemed more acceptable as a unifying icon for a nation divided over slavery because of his role in securing independence for the country seventy years earlier.

Ultimately 3,564,000 stamps were issued but few survive today.

Generally postage stamps are valid for postage in perpetuity, but this stamp was declared invalid for postage effective July 1, 1851. However, there are known uses of Scott #1 for postage as late as 1860.

The same design is used on Scott #1a, 1b, and 1c, all color variations, and
Scott #3, issued in 1875.

 

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